We all enter this Earth, live our life, and impact others with the legacy of that life. Through our legacy, we remain connected to others and influence their own life experiences, decisions and beliefs. How precious it is when we can impart a legacy of faith that draws others closer to God.
This past weekend, we traveled to Columbus, GA to celebrate the 95th birthday of Jewel Austin. She is my husband’s grandmother and without a doubt the “Jewel” of the family. As loved ones and relatives gathered near, words were spoken in love and tenderness to honor her. One of her granddaughters spoke of Grandmother’s great faith and how much that had impacted her whole life. She said, ” I didn’t know any other way to live because she filled my heart and mind with such stories of faith, and she lived as an example of that faith.” Read the rest of this entry
Vintage: Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.
Feb 8th I will celebrate my 21st Anniversary to my beloved. His parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and some day I hope that we will also reach that important milestone. I don’t want to be “just married”, however. I want to be “happily married”.
As I reminisce through early dating memories, I recall the one thing my husband did that truly won my heart. He committed to me through 3 months of being very far apart. In that day, there was no internet, cell phones, texting, etc. and long distance calls were very expensive. To keep the romance alive, he sent me at least 2 cards a week. Some were funny, some were cute, and some were serious. I loved them all, and to this day I have kept every one of them. Read the rest of this entry
WISDOM IS KNOWING THAT WE ARE JUST DUST
He remembers that
we are dust. -Psalm 103:14
When I fail to meet your expectations….remember that I am dust.
When I cause you heartache and sorrow…..remember that I am dust.
When you are lonely and I am not there….remember that I am dust. Read the rest of this entry
The Blame Game has been around for a long time.
Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Genesis 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
In fact, it is prevalent throughout the Bible, and is still a well played game today. Children use it frequently because they naturally want to rationalize wrong behaviors and get out of trouble. It is easy to recognize when a child uses it…but what about when we use it ourselves? We may not even be aware that we are doing it.
I was sitting through a webinar at my job a few weeks ago. The webinar was about improving the relationships between nurses and therapists. They began talking about how one group will blame the other and refered to the idiom of “throwing someone under the bus.” The problem identified was how that always keeps the pot stirred and creates separation, “us vs them”. As I heard the examples used, I thought, how justified those statements were, and I use them myself in pointing a finger at the other discipline as a group. So, I really had to dig through my rationalization to see the errors of my ways. Example “Nursing doesn’t care about the patient. It’s just a job to them.” I’ve felt that way many times and have been quick to verbalize it to others. But is that fair? Or am I throwing them under the bus without really knowing the circumstances. Maybe I am wrong in my assumptions and they do care. Maybe there are aspects of their jobs that I don’t understand. Maybe the stresses of performing their jobs give the wrong impression. Maybe they are doing the best they can.
God convicted me, no doubt. And I am working on changing this wrong behavior. To throw someone under the bus is equivalent to using others as a scapegoat.
The origin of the scapegoat is a goat over the head of which the high priest of the ancient Jews confessed the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement, after which it was allowed to escape: Lev. 16:7-26. Don’t we want our wrong doings to run away? Don’t we want to vent our frustrations when something is not how we want it to be? How convenient to place them on someone else.
Challenge: May I challenge you to pay attention to how many times you use a group or individual as a scapegoat. Pay attention to how you defend yourself and make sure you don’t throw someone under the bus in the process. The Bible says: 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Instead of looking for that scapegoat, let’s try to find a different solution and work on building each other up, working together to solve problems instead of blaming.
Images above:Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
This is a picture from an article called “The Rescue Hug”.
The article details the first week of a set of twins.
Apparently, each were in their respective incubators,
and one was not expected to live.
A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules
and placed the babies in one incubator.
When they were placed together, the healthier of the twins
reached out an arm over the sister in an endearing embrace.
The smaller baby’s heart stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.
(Verified by Snopes as true).
Both of these babies survived, and the story is a touching example of how important human touch is, and how God designed us to need it for survival, for life.
How comfortable are you with touch? American culture is typically very “hands off” and touch starved. I would like to encourage you to examine your own comfort level with touch and being touched as a means of communication with those around you. Touch doesn’t have to be sexual, and it is a very important communication tool.
A touch can convey: I am thinking about you. I noticed you. I want to show I care. You are important. I empathize with your situation. I want you to feel better. I am happy to see you. I am happy to be with you. I sense your suffering. I want to comfort you. I see you.
Touch can have healing power: comfort, decreased anxiety, decreased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, decreased pain, decreased tension, decreased restlessness, decrease in stress hormones, improved circulation, relaxation, increase in chemicals and hormones that promote a good immune system and promote emotional and mental well being.
Challenge: Reach out and connect with the people in your life via touch….a gentle hand on a shoulder, a gentle press of another’s hand in yours, a hug, a massage. Let your kids lay on you, snuggle with you, give them hugs and affectionate touches. Give your husband hugs and kisses, massages, and snuggles. Connect even with strangers as opportunity presents itself with gentle touches that bestow friendliness, caring.
Touch and be touched.
A Touching Prayer for you: May you become more and more comfortable with the life giving connection of touch….as God meant for it to be shared with others as an important expression of His love and concern. May you give and receive many touches in your lifetime.
For More Information on the Importance of Touch:
5 Benefits of the Human Touch: http://www.modernmom.com/article/5-benefits-of-the-human-touch
The Healing Power of Touch: http://www.odemagazine.com/blogs/readers_blog/13878/the_healing_power_of_touch
The Healing Power of Touch Reduces Anxiety and Tension: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0675/is_n6_v9/ai_11489808/
The Healing Power of Touch: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/womens_health/83603
The Power of the Human Touch-How Important is the Touch?: http://veronicaallen.hubpages.com/hub/The-Power-Of-The-Human-Touch
The Power of Touch: http://scrubsmag.com/the-power-of-touch/
Ephesians 4: 31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.MY CONNECTION TO OTHERS: God made us for relationship with Him, and for relationship with one another. It’s easy to feel connected to God in the uplifting, positive, pleasurable connections and experiences we have with other people. When someone expresses love to us, gives us a friendly smile, compliments or commends us…..when someone wants to be with us, thinks we are talented, and they are impressed with us….we find their company and interactions favorable experiences…and we can be grateful.
But what about when our interactions with others are not pleasant? What about when they are rude, arrogant, and speak unkindly to us? What about when they do not like us, or they go so far as to speak ill of us, and maybe even try to damage our character and reputation. How do we fight against the defensive tendency to become bitter, and resentful or retaliate with like behavior, or to just shrink away from contact with people all together? How do we find God at work in such yucky, hurtful, difficult experiences with others? BY REMEMBERING THE GRACE AND MERCY EXTENDED US BY GOD, AND EXTENDING THE SAME GRACE, MERCY, AND COMPASSION TO OTHERS. God may be at work in that person’s life, and you might be a tool He can use to reflect His attributes and love….or you could be a hindrance that further alienates and confuses them. Look outside the immediate conflict or negative encounter to try and figure out what it’s all about. It might not really be about you at all – imagine that :) . Perhaps there is some stress, frustration, fear, or need in that person’s life that is just expressing itself in the immediate moment. We all have broken, wounded, sensitive areas in our lives. We have fears, insecurities, stressors. And, we all have selfishness, wrong thinking, human emotions, prejudices, and reactions to deal with.
Think about: What could I do to help make this more positive, reduce some stress, to show care or concern? Ask God to show you how to respond or how He wants to use you. Often, in the hospital where I work, I encounter family members who feel out of control when their loved one is ill. This stress can manifest in a lot of tension, complaints, and other issues. Sometimes, they just need you to take an extra couple of minutes every day to stop by the room and give them feedback on what’s going on with their loved one and to make them feel part of the process, and their hospital experience becomes more positive.
Think about: What can I do to define a situation for someone. Being kind, and responding in a Christlike manner doesn’t mean being a doormat. Sometimes, God may want you to take action to define boundaries with another person, or to help them understand need for change or compromise. The Bible gives clear instruction for confronting one another in love. My husband and I have tried God on this one, and He has blessed us with reconciliation with others that could have turned into ugly situations if we had just reacted in anger and retaliation. It is important to remember, however, that reconciliation will not always be the end result, but at least you can rest in the comfort of knowing you did your part.
Think about: Do we trust in God’s opinion of us, or do we give too much concern to man’s opinions? We can not change others or control how they choose to interact with us. God is the only one that can change a person’s heart. In dealing with difficult people, we have to surrender the outcomes ultimately to Him. Sometimes we just have to suffer faithfully the injustices of others. We have to let God be judge and jury on this earth, and rest in the knowledge that He is ultimately in control of every situation and can use it for His glory and for His purpose. This is where we have opportunity to share in His afflictions and persecutions – (less of me, more of Him). Know that God does care and will honor your trust and submission to Him in the midst of trials and tribulations.
Most importantly – PRAY FOR THAT PERSON! Have compassion for others. When people feel unhappy, unloved, and/or insecure, they have a hard time interacting positively and appropriately with others… Without Christ, they can’t see much farther than their own noses, and that’s a sad, lonely, miserable place to be. Desire and pray that they be set free from their shackles…free to truly care about others, to value others and to be able to be happy for others. Do your part to respond as Christ would have you respond, and then let God do the work He does best – soften hearts to receive His love.
Prayer For Your Interactions With Others: May you remember to surrender all outcomes to God who knows best, and can bring about the best outcomes. May you count it a privilege and an opportunity to reflect Christ, and to be a tool He can use in another’s life when you encounter difficult people and unpleasant circumstances with others. May you ultimately learn to rest in the truth of God’s love and acceptance of you, and not in the opinion of man.
Above Image: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man (adult), I gave up my childish ways.”
(1 Corinthians 13:11)
My teenager is a mystery that baffles every sense of reason and logic that I try to apply to being her guide and mentor. No matter how many times I think I’ve gotten past a gap in our communication, I slam into yet another seemingly impenetrable wall, and feel like I have to start all over again. I love my daughter very much and I know she has a deep love and respect for me, so it is very stressful I think for both of us when anything disturbs the usually calm waters of our daily interactions. The latest emotional meltdown and typical teenage shutdown that occurred created in me a deep desire to try a different approach to reaching out to her that would hopefully bring a much needed change in our ability to interact more effectively…What did I try?
I simply waited for her to be very calm and non-emotionally involved in any issue between us, and I had a heart to heart talk about what is going on through her eyes. The insight shared was very enlightening and matched alot of the information I had been reading on the internet about what our teenagers have to deal with. Most importantly, I realized that I was making the mistake of trying to look at her too closely with the eyes of an adult expecting her to be able to respond and interact with me as a mature adult. Big mistake….huge in fact! In reality, our teens are not mature adults, but they are also not children….they are caught somewhere in the twilight zone of being between 2 worlds and trying to transition through a very confusing time in their lives. We may never have a full understanding of what they are going through, but we have the opportunity as Christian parents to apply enormous amounts of grace in to the midst of their rapidly changing worlds.
Here are some of the things that my daughter and I gleaned from our conversation and some applications for future interactions.
1. Teenagers may realize that they are overreacting and blowing things out of proportion, but at the same time, feel overwhelmed in their efforts to calm their emotions. Thus the emotional meltdown, or the shut down or both.
Application: Both recognize this is happening. Teenager should ask for some time to get their emotions together and then resume discussions. Parent should recognize that the teen is not capable at that moment of being rational and allow the teen some reasonable time to calm down, or just be alone to think through their inner reactions, and organize their thoughts.
2. Teenagers can be overly sensitive to direct confrontations, especially if they perceive anger in the tone of the adult’s voice or mannerisms. Teenagers can work on trying to remember that the adult is wanting an issue dealt with, and may not realize they are being overbearing in their directness. The adult can work on remembering that a teenager may be more sensitive and defensive with a very direct, confrontational approach and make special effort to be less direct.
Application: Instead of the adult saying bluntly or maybe even with a stern tone, “Why haven’t you_______, (can come across as a very confrontational, accusatory attack)”. The adult can say, I noticed you are doing_____________, and I had expected that you would have done____________. Is there is a reason why this hasn’t been done yet. Is there a misunderstanding in what I expected of you? This approach, is indirect yet still addresses an issue is present. It gives the teen opportunity to explain and not feel so attacked. Many times, I think I have clearly communicated my expectations, and we have a mutual understanding, but when I hear my teen out, I realize she had a very different perspective or an incomplete understanding. I may have assumed she was intentionally ignoring her duties. She may have been on a different page all together.
3. Teenagers want to be independent and yet they don’t. A teen may toggle between presenting as confident, capable, and wanting to be independent, and then expressing apprehensions, and insecurities. They have unique and strong peer pressures to deal with, a constant fluctuation of hormonal changes to deal with, and they are transitioning between being dependent children and being prepared to face the “big wide world out there” as responsible adults. They want to be considered adults but they do not feel fully competent yet to have that safety net of depending on mom and dad fully removed.
Application: Teens need to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, even if it is done in baby steps to develop more competence and confidence. Parents need to balance their push out of the nest with encouragement and support. Make clear expectations. Make clear consequences for infractions. Give more trust and opportunity for independence yet maintain accountability and expectations of mutual respect.
To other parents out there equally perplexed by the bizarre and unpredictable behaviors of teens, I hope to offer some encouragement: I have spoken with many friends who have already survived these challenging years of parenting, and they assure me that if the child is being raised by loving Christian parents, they will mature beyond these transitional moods and behaviors. They can indeed become responsible and capable, and the preserved communication between parent and young adult can develop into a new and very rewarding relationship. In the mean time, love them bunches and bunches and try to be understanding of how difficult this transition period can be. Don’t give up on them….God doesn’t.
Picture Above courtesy of: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>